Eddie Howe explains Alexander Isak surprise decision amid Arsenal transfer talk

Alexander Isak is substituted by Eddie Howe

Eddie Howe has confirmed the reason he substituted Arsenal-linked striker Alexander Isak in Newcastle United's 1-1 draw with Brighton was due to illness.

The Magpies have made a late push towards the European qualification places in the final weeks of the season but found themselves sucker punched when Brighton took the lead in their match earlier on Saturday.

Sean Longstaff equalised in the fifth minute of first-half injury time, leaving the entirety of the second period remaining to turn things around. That is why Isak's removal for Harvey Barnes amongst a trio of subs with 23 minutes to play sparked confusion amongst the home support.

"Alex wasn't feeling very well yesterday so I took the decision to look after him with a three-game week in mind," Howe explained to the press following his team's failure to change the 1-1 scoreline. "You could see he wasn’t at full tilt today."

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The Sweden international's current club will hope he is able to recover quickly as coming up in the final week of the season are away trips to Manchester United and Brentford. Both will have a major say on final standings of the top six.

From an Arsenal perspective, Gunners supporters will hope this late-season bug does not derail the end of a splendid year for the club's reported transfer target. Isak has played 38 matches in all competitions and scored 24 goals in the process - an improvement on last year by 13.

A fee of £100m has recently been floated around for the prolific 24-year-old, however when asked prior to the weekend, Newcastle's manager was certain his striker and team-mate Bruno Guimaraes - also linked with a switch to the Emirates Stadium - will 'be here' come the start of the 2024/25 campaign.